Dual Citizenship Is a Complex Status

Dual citizenship means that a person is a national of two countries at once. The USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, allows dual citizenship in certain circumstances. To understand dual citizenship you must first know about the laws regarding the matter. The laws of both countries are usually maintained unless the person voluntarily gives up citizenship.

U.S. Citizen

The Immigration and Nationalization Act, INA, defines a national of the United States as a person who is either a U.S. citizen or a person who owes permanent allegiance to the United States. Someone with dual citizenship is required to obey the laws of both countries when there are present. Generally, the country where the person resides has the strongest claim to nationality.

Laws of Citizenship

Those who have dual citizenship usually have it as a function of the governing laws rather than by choice. Dual citizenship most often happens when a person who is a citizen of another country later becomes a citizen of the United States. There are several common ways this can happen including:

  • Birth – Dual citizenship can occur at birth. One example of this would be a child born outside of the U.S. to United States citizens. In this case the child may be a citizen of the country where he was born and also a citizen of the U.S. based on U.S. laws. The same holds true for a child born in the U.S. to parents who are citizens of another country.
  • Marriage – A person who gains citizenship through marriage by still continue to hold citizenship in his or her home country.
  • Naturalization – Those who are naturalized U.S. citizens may still also legally be citizens of their original homeland. This occurs because of the laws of the person’s original country.


Traveling as a dual citizen still requires a passport when leaving or entering the United States. Additionally, the person’s other country may also require a passport. The U.S. does not encourage dual citizenship, but it does not usually take any action against it. A person can give up foreign nationality if they choose to do so. If a person applies for foreign citizenship, he may lose his U.S. citizenship. This can happen because the person has shown intent to give up U.S. citizenship.

The laws regarding dual citizenship can be complicated. If you are considering dual citizenship or want to renounce your citizenship, it is best to do so only after consulting with an immigration attorney.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Dual Citizenship, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at  480.461.5330, log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.